Road built out of plastic bags, glass and printer cartridges
The first NSW road built out of soft plastics and glass, based at Engadine in southern Sydney, will see plastic from approximately 176,000 plastic bags and packaging and 55,000 glass bottle equivalents diverted from landfill.
Toner from approximately 4000 used printer cartridges and more than 60 tonnes of recycled asphalt were also repurposed to create 220 tonnes of asphalt used to construct the road along Old Princes Highway between Cooper Street and Engadine Road in Sutherland Shire, thanks to a partnership between Sutherland Shire Council and integrated services company Downer with resource recovery and recycling companies Close the Loop, RED Group and Plastic Police.
Sutherland Shire Mayor Carmelo Pesce said the council is committed to showing leadership in sustainability and the use of recycled products, noting, “Sutherland Shire Council collects over 25,000 tonnes of recycling in the yellow-top bins every year.
“Using recycled plastic and glass in asphalt to create new road surfaces is just one of the innovative ways council can reduce its environmental footprint through the use of recyclable material,” Councillor Pesce added.
Downer partnered closely with Close the Loop to innovatively tailor waste products such as soft plastics to suit a road construction application. Nerida Mortlock, General Manager of Close the Loop Australia, said, “Our close partnership with Downer, along with our collaborative partnerships with RedCycle and Plastic Police, has allowed us to design, develop and manufacture sustainable products using problematic waste streams. We are very pleased to see soft plastics used for the first time in a NSW road.”
Stuart Billing, Downer General Manager Pavements, said the milestone demonstrates the importance of partnerships with other thought leaders to create economic, social and environmental value for products that would more than likely end up in landfill, be stockpiled or be a pollutant in our natural environments.
“Through our partnerships and desire to make a difference, we’ve shown how to recycle and repurpose waste materials into new streams of use,” he said. “It’s all about pulling products, not pushing waste.
“Further to the direct sustainability benefits, this cost-competitive road product, called Plastiphalt, has a 65% improvement in fatigue life and a superior resistance to deformation, making the road last longer and allowing it to better handle heavy vehicle traffic.”
The Sutherland Shire Council project is co-funded through the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative, funded from the waste levy. According to NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton, the results demonstrate how committed organisations can find innovative solutions to waste reduction.
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